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believe it is fair to assume that the modeller was considered when new models were discussed but only from the point of view that what was produced could with a little time and patience be enhanced by the enthusiast. As already hinted at, to my mind and others the modeller of the Sixties and Seventies was a very different person to many who consider themselves a modeller these days. Not that there is anything wrong with that but times were different then. If the Seventies modeller wanted a detail model he or she would have to either enhance an existing Hornby model from components supplied by specialist companies or make the model from a kit! Not easy. In short Hornby’s philosophy during those days was that they produced ‘jolly nice toys that could be turned into models if required’. Sadly and not unsurprisingly this statement was to haunt Hornby for many years after. It would be wrong to say that Hornby were complacent during the early Seventies. Far from it, they were promoting their two key brands extensively through point of sale, plus television advertising together with store visits, trade shows and similar pursuits. Their Marketing budget must have been something to behold. Obviously all this ‘show’ brought model railways simultaneously to the attention of two major companies being that of Airfix Industries and Palitoy, a subsidiary of the US giant General Mills. One can only imagine that as their respective salesmen visited all the model shops and toy shops they would have been faced with walls of Hornby train sets and a staggering amount of point of sale, while also witnessing, once in the comfort of their own homes an abundance of Hornby’s television advertising. It is quite easy to assume that during conversations with their retailers the salesmen would have been told that they should ‘get into’ model railways. ‘After all there is only Hornby and they could do with some competition.’ Such conversations I suspect would have been passed along to both the marketing and development departments of both Palitoy and Airfix and with a little bit of marketing research, and quite independent of each other both companies decided that model railways would be their next big investment. However, not for them investing in new UK factories, they had plenty of contacts in the Far East who could do the job, after all some of the US model trains were being made in Chinese factories by that time so why not some for the UK? Both companies would have looked in depth and analysed what part of the market Hornby were not really catering for and both companies came up with the same answer, ‘The Modeller’. At that time the Hornby models were lacking in detail and finish and although this might have been OK for the toy train market the enthusiast was far from impressed. In 1975, Airfix made an announcement to the model trade that they would be entering the world of model railways by producing their own range of models but the industry had to wait until the 1976 British Toy & Hobbies Fair, which was held at Brighton at the end of January before they could see any preproduction samples. That same year and at the same Toy Fair, Palitoy under the brand name ‘Mainline’ unveiled their own model railway offerings to an eager but somewhat surprised model and toy trade. 56

Model Railway Express Issue Two January 2017  
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